Third-Generation Apple TV 4K Boasts More Storage for Lower Prices
The Apple TV hardware may seem like Apple’s forgotten stepchild, but the company has now updated the Apple TV 4K for the second year in a row. The device is largely the same black box and Siri Remote, but there are some slight differences that make for the best Apple TV lineup we’ve seen since Apple rebooted the lineup in 2015.
The first major difference is that the new Apple TV ships with an A15 Bionic processor. We were disappointed that last year’s long-overdue update featured an ancient A12 Bionic chip, so this is a welcome improvement. The A15 Bionic was introduced with the iPhone 13 line and continues on in the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus, so the Apple TV 4K finally has an up-to-date processor.
Apple has slashed Apple TV prices by $50 while doubling the storage. The third-generation Apple TV 4K starts at $129 with 64 GB of storage, down $50 from $179 for 32 GB of storage in the past two generations. There is also a 128 GB model for $149, which is again $50 cheaper than the previous 64 GB top-tier model. And unlike past Apple TV 4K models, which were distinguished only by their storage space, the higher-end model is worth considering this time because it includes a Gigabit Ethernet port and support for the Thread home networking protocol, while the base model does not.
Both second-generation models supported Ethernet and Thread, but given that the higher-end Apple TV 4K in this year’s lineup is cheaper than last year’s base model, there’s nothing to complain about there.
Another slight but important change: the Siri Remote is now in its third generation, with the only change being a switch from Lightning to USB-C, likely signaling a shift away from Lightning across the entire Apple product line (see “European Union to Mandate USB-C in Electronic Devices by the End of 2024,” 4 October 2022). You can buy the new Siri Remote by itself today for $59.
It’s also worth noting that Apple has finally dropped the completely pointless Apple TV HD. It was embarrassing that Apple was still selling a non-4K home entertainment device in 2021, particularly at an uncompetitive $149.
While none of these changes will alter the overall Apple TV experience for most users, this is a much better Apple TV lineup, with modern processors, more storage, and better prices. There’s little reason to upgrade from an existing Apple TV that meets your needs, but if you’re replacing a much older device or buying into the Apple TV ecosystem to start, the lower prices make the decision easier. You can order the new Apple TV 4K models today, and they’ll ship and be in stores on 4 November 2022.
Anyone want to speculate why they dropped ethernet from the cheaper model?
A few possible reasons for removal of Ethernet connector from Apple TV:
I bought the last AppleTV 4K, but I’m a bit tempted to get this new version, partly for the extra storage but mostly because of the Thread support, since I’ve been getting into HomeKit recently…
Thread support only on the 128 GB model (the one with ethernet) FWIW.
Hi Allen. I just created a Talk about Homekit woes:
That reminds me that I had to fix a Homekit problem (due to a wifi router change) by disconnecting the ethernet from the Apple TV so that it connected by wifi. I plugged the ethernet back in and everything worked but maybe that triggered my problems (after several weeks of no problems)?
Anyway, the relevance to this thread is that maybe Apple didn’t fully test tvOS16 with the ATV connected by ethernet because they are dropping the ethernet port from the forthcomimng ATV?
Yeah. The ethernet is less important to me because I don’t want to string an ethernet cable through to the next room … but the storage could be handy.
I sure wish they’d put an audio output back on the AppleTV box, though.
Depending on how you set up your home network, you might want to use powerline adapters for wired networking, to avoid the need to fish wires through your walls.
In my home, I’ve got a secondary router in the basement, in bridge mode, acting as a second access point for my LAN. It is connected to my main router via powerline transceivers.
A few A/V devices in that room (my DVR, AppleTV and Blu-Ray player) connect to that router via Ethernet because it is a more reliable connection than the Wi-Fi, and to free up Wi-Fi bandwidth for mobile devices.
Oh, interesting idea! My wifi is doing well enough, for now…but I’ll keep it in mind. Thanks!
That shouldn’t really matter to HomeKit. As long as it’s the same IP network, it doesn’t matter if the hub is WiFi or Ethernet connected.
At my house, all of my Apple TVs are ethernet connected, and HomeKit is just fine.
Undoubtedly to cut costs and the fact that most people probably use Wi-Fi anyway. I’d love to have Ethernet in my TV room but it’s just not practical.
Both versions of last year’s model support Thread (or should), so that shouldn’t be necessary. See: Apple Updates Apple TV 4K; Introduces New Siri Remote - TidBITS.
Ethernet on the Apple TV has been problematic for a long time. One of my very first articles for TidBITS was about a third-generation Apple TV update that failed over Ethernet but worked over Wi-Fi. See Apple TV Update 5.1.1 May Fail over Ethernet - TidBITS.
My guess is Apple assumes the vast majority of users stick to Wi-Fi and they just don’t test Ethernet as thoroughly. Also, they probably don’t consider that something that works over Wi-Fi would fail over Ethernet, which is understandable but isn’t supported by history.
I have it and depend on it–my wifi LAN, which works fine for everything else, isn’t capable of streaming uncompressed 4K UHD files from my home server to my ATV, and I’m able to string wires among the rooms in my first floor unit through the basement. Upgrading the wifi coverage would undoubtedly cost more that $20.
So I’d be in the market for the $149 model, but don’t need anything it offers but ethernet (storage, A15, Thread, UHD+). Should probably pick up the old one from Amazon for $100 while I still can . . .
I’m thinking about upgrading my Apple TV HD model A1625 (64 GB) that I bought in 2015.
I use it with a Vizio Ultra HD model M65-C1 and I’m not sure which newer Apple TV model is the best fit for its ports, maximum resolution, and other technical specifications.
A picture of the TV specifications from the manual is below and they are also listed online but I think the relevant ones are:
Regarding my network:
Questions on my mind:
I would just get the newest Apple TV 4K. Probably the one with 128GB storage, in order to get the Ethernet port.
Either one will put out the 4K video required to take advantage of your TV’s capabilities. You might need an upgraded HDMI cable if the one you currently have is only “standard” speed. But even a certified Ultra High Speed (48G) cable isn’t very expensive these days. I recently bought a few from Infinite Cables because they ranked among the best by Linus Tech Tips. (Downside: Time and cost for them to ship from Canada). But you can get good cables from many different sources.
Regarding your network, both models ATV will connect to your Wi-Fi. Only the 128GB model will have an Ethernet port, however. The speed of your Internet connection is probably going to be a bigger factor in determining whether or not you can stream 4K. (And, of course, if you are paying for 4K streaming. It’s an extra charge for some services like HBO Max).
If you get an Apple TV 4K, and have subscribed to 4K content, you will probably see a difference, because your TV is 4K and a 65" screen is definitely big enough to see a difference at normal viewing distances. Ditto for HDR.
There should be no problem with your TV “only” supporting HDMI 2.0. As far as I can tell all of the new-for-2.1 features are for things that you don’t need to worry about (e.g. 4K at refresh rates greater than 60 Hz, or resolutions higher than 4K).
I definitely wouldn’t be concerned about “overkill”. It’s not like the device costs that much these days. The new models actually cost less than the ones they replaced. And the faster processor means you’ll retain app-compatibility for longer than you would with an older model.
As far as I know, Netflix is the only major service charging more for 4K content. Of course, many services have introduced cheaper with-ads tiers, and the ad-free service costs more.
HBO Max’s $10 (“with ads”) tier does not support 4K. You need to pay for the $15 (“ad free”) tier to get 4K. There is no way to choose to view ads for a lower price and also get 4K content.
You already mentioned Netflix. I’m sure these are not the only two.
I gather from my post on Apple Discussions, for my purposes there’s no difference between the 2021 and 2022 models of the Apple TV 4K, which have a slightly smaller size, faster processor, no fan, and potentially twice the storage.
Amazon now has discounted the 2021 Apple TV 4K (32 GB) to only $99 so I’m inclined to get this older model.
Does this choice seem reasonable?
UPDATE November 5, 2022 3:32 AM
Nice summary of reasons for choosing 2021 32 GB model:
If you don’t think the differences are worth the $30-50 price difference, then go for it. It should work just fine.
FWIW, I recently bought the 2021 4K (64GB) about a week before the new models were announced. I probably should have waited (the fact that Costco discounted it from $180 to $150 should have been my hint, instead of my trigger to buy it), but I am confident that it will run well for many years before something (most likely app compatibility) forces me to upgrade.
As for the lower storage, if you’re primarily using it to stream content, then I think even the 32GB should be just fine. If you purchase larger apps (e.g. games), then you may find yourself wanting the bigger models. The Apple TV will (if I remember correctly) offload apps to free up space, and re-download them the next time you use them. So, the smaller capacity is going to be more of an annoyance than a real problem, as long as your Internet connection has sufficient bandwidth, and it probably does if you have enough to stream 4K content.
As ad-supported tiers are recent additions for streamers that support 4K content, I expect restrictions. I think of the ad-supported tier like the basic economy fare tier on an airline. Restrictions are common on ad-supported tiers For example, with most streamers, you can download most of their content to mobile devices. This is quite useful if you’re going offline for a while. However, if you’re on the ad-supported version, forget about that.
Netflix actually has 4 tiers. The ad-supported and basic ad-free plans support only 720p. The two higher priced plans support 1080p and 4K respectively.
Paramount Plus does have an ad-supported version that supports 4K. Disney+ will be introducing an ad-supported version in December, but it’s not clear if will support 4K. The other streamers that have ad-supported tiers have no 4K content.
Thank you very much for your input.
I went ahead and ordered the 2021 Apple TV 4K (32GB) from Amazon and also picked up a Monoprice 8K Certified Braided Ultra High Speed HDMI 2.1 Cable - 3 Feet based on Monoprice’s high ratings by Wirecutter.
As I requested on the Vizio support site, someone called me and we spoke about the factors required for viewing 4K streaming video on my TV. Among them is the need for sufficient internet bandwidth on my AT&T Internet DSL connection, which is rated at 45 Mbps.
The support person said that a 100-200 Mbps connection is required for 4K video streaming in part because in his experience the bandwidth will be split among all the connected devices.
I did various Internet searches to determine the bandwidth required for streaming 4K video; at the low end was was 15 Mbps according to Netflix and Amazon but most sources claim that 25 Mbps is the minimum.
Using the Ookla’s Speedtest on my iPhone, my WiFi download speed is usually 25-30 Mbps but in some remote corners of the house it is below 20 Mbps.
The terminal command
networkqualityrunning on my iMac with an Ethernet connection indicates a much better bandwidth:
Since I’ll be connecting my 2021 Apple TV 4K by Ethernet, I’m thinking that my bandwidth is sufficient for streaming 4K video.
Is this a reasonable conclusion?
The Vizio tech is right in that 4K streaming uses a lot of bandwidth, but 200Mbps is a bit excessive. He is assuming that you won’t actually be getting the bandwidth you’re paying for and that other devices in your home will be consuming just as much.
I think you may be able to get 4K on your network (although you may want to use an Ethernet connection to your router, if possible, to avoid Wi-Fi interference), depending on whether or not anybody else in your home is streaming media at the same time.
And keep in mind that an Apple TV 4K isn’t only 4K. If you don’t have enough bandwidth, your streaming apps will fall back to lower bit-rates, which the Apple TV will then upscale to 4K. In other words, you’ll be seeing the best your network can deliver.
Netflix charges extra for 4K streaming, but I know that Amazon does not. So you may want to test your system with them before deciding whether or not to upgrade Netflix.
In short, don’t worry about it that much. Just connect everything and see what it looks like.
Excellent point, David. Re. that, I’d be curious to know more about DSL, which I’ve never had any experience with but many, like Nello and my brother (in darkest Vermont), still use. Is there a universal bandwidth standard, for instance, or does that depend on your local TelCo?
DSL comes in many flavors and speeds, which will depend on who your service provider is and how far (wireline-distance) you are from the digital part of the network.
At one extreme, there’s first-generation ADSL. This, under ideal conditions, would provide about 1.5Mbit/s, if you were close to your phone company’s central office, and less (down to a minimum of 128Kbit/s) if you were at a maximum distance.
At the other end, VDSL can go up to 300Mbit/s over short distances. This is frequently deployed in fiber-to-the-curb scenarios, where fiber is run into a neighborhood, terminating at a DSLAM with traditional copper lines running the (relatively short) distances from there to subscriber homes. The DSL can reach such high speeds because the analog copper (“local loop”) only runs a short distane to the DSLAM, and the data is carried over fiber from there to the central office.
The bandwidth available for you will depend on what specific technology has been deployed to your neighborhood and where key pieces of equipment (e.g. DSLAMs) are located relative to your home. This is why service providers always require your address in order to determine what speeds you can get - a customer who is 500’ further away (again, wire-line distance, which isn’t always a straight line) from the DSLAM than another customer may be more limited in available speeds than the closer customer.
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